RE: [Harp-L] Harmonica tuning

Just a couple of things, Patrick.   Very few harps these days come out of the box in true Just intonation - those you're referring to are in one intermediate tuning or another somewhere between JI and equal temperament.   I think only the Hering Vintage comes in JI.  As for slightly-bright tuning, I mess around a lot with my harps but I'm quite happy to be a smidgeon above the other instruments.  Don't ask me why, but I think I sound a bit brighter without sounding sharp.  I think you probably need to be at at least A444 to start sounding sharp to most ears.   I prefer equal temperament myself for the context I play in (Irish pub sessions mostly as a melody player) but I think you'll find an awful lot of people who would disagree with this.  So I retune mine to ET, but the only only other reason I have for tinkering is to get the gapping right for my rather forceful playing.   I'm sure there are, on the other hand, many players around who are happy both with OOTB gapping and tuning.  If you want to buy harps in ET, the Suzuki and Lee Oskar diatonics are so-tuned, as is the Hohner Golden Melody.  

I don't see the harm in doing a little tweaking to get harps perfect for one's personal style of playing.   I find it hard enough to play the thing anyway without having little gapping issues adding to the burden!

HEAR my CD clips:
> Hello,
>> I am new to this site and the first thing I read about is how every
>> "...serious U.K. (harp) player" plays only harmonicas that have been
>> customized. So, am I right to understand that these days no "serious"
>> professional simply purchases a harp at a music store and plays it on a
>> gig as it comes out of the box? Having played professionally for over 40
>> years (chromatic and diatonic), "out-of-the-box" is the only way I have
>> ever played a harmonica---straight as it comes from Hohner. I guess I
>> feel it is somewhat a cop-out to do otherwise--like it's part of the
>> challenge of playing a harmonica, or, put in terms of contemporary
>> athletics, playing the game straight instead of using performance
>> enhancing drugs.
>> With this said, I will admit to having the good folks in the Hohner
>> repair shop specially tune Marine Band harmonicas for me to A=440 Equal
>> Temperament instead of the tuning Hohner uses for Marine Band harps,
>> which is (approximately) A=442.5, Just intonation. I need harmonicas
>> tuned to standard orchestra pitch because I play the piano at the same
>> time I play the harmonica, and when on tour I need to make sure the
>> harmonicas are in standard tune with the pianos that are provided by the
>> venues. Until I discovered that Hohner would retune a Marine Band, it was
>> quite difficult for me to tour outside of my home area because I was
>> never satisfied with the sound I got trying to match my harmonicas with
>> pianos tuned to another pitch. It's a big enough challenge trying to play
>> a harp on the rack without it sounding like a toy, let alone not be in
>> tune--this only emphasized shrill toy-like sound qualities. In contrast,
>> when the piano is perfectly tuned to the harmonica, a powerful synergetic
>> wedding a the tones takes place that creates a combined sound that seems
>> bigger than the sum of the two parts.
>> My home studio pianos are tuned to A=442.5, and I use harmonicas I buy at
>> the local music store. I save the A=440 harps for when I am touring and
>> playing pianos properly tuned to A=440. Also, the intonation of my home
>> and studio pianos are somewhat modified to partially match the Just
>> Intonation of the "out-of-the-box" C Marine Band diatonic harp. This is
>> the key harp I normally use for the six or seven keys in which I commonly
>> perform.
>> I sometimes wonder why Hohner doesn't simply produce Marine Band harps
>> properly tuned to standard pitch and equal temperament. In this day and
>> age of people playing in multiple keys upon the same diatonic, the need
>> to give the harmonicas a tuning in Just Intonation is unnecessary.
>> All diatonic Marine Band harps used to be tuned to A=440 until around
>> 1982. I have a couple of pre 1982 Marine Bands and they are, indeed, not
>> in tune with the harps made after 1982. So, if any of you have concerns
>> about this same issue, please pass it along to Hohner if you haven't
>> already. Perhaps Hohner may go back to the tuning they used before 1982
>> if enough harmonica players voice their concern.
>> Best wishes,
>> Patrick Hazell
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